Spend an hour or two sniffing around /r/SkincareAddiction, the hugely popular Reddit forum dedicated to all matters of the skin, and you’re bound to learn a few new things. You’ll learn the difference between PIH (Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation) and acne scarring, the unexpected brands that have major cult followings among those in the know (Paula’s Choice, CeraVe, and The Ordinary, to name a few), and why Aztec Indian Healing Clay makes your face feel like it has a heartbeat — and, if you’re lucky, you might even be alerted to a sale or two.
But even as you absorb the wealth of wisdom SkincareAddiction and its knowledgeable members have to offer, it's crucial to remain alert: This is the internet we’re talking about, and it’s inevitable that you’ll stumble across something that sounds the alarm in your lotion-loving head. If someone writes that the “caveman regimen” saved their skin, for example, don’t assume they’re referring to a legitimate method of treatment you just haven’t heard of yet. They’re not.
The caveman regimen, according to Reddit user Gracilis67, who swears it prevents whiteheads from forming and fades scarring, “means you do not wash your face whatsoever.” You don’t use any other skin products, either. If you want to live the caveman way, you’ll have to kiss your hyaluronic acid serum, your nightly retinol, and your fragrant rose oil goodbye.
This regimen, which is not much of a regimen at all, takes the “less is more” approach to the extreme and gives it a clever name. It’s the Paleo diet of skin care, meant to trick you into believing that the original Homo sapiens had it figured out and that all the innovation and science to come out of the last ten thousand years or so was for naught.
The revelation that there are people in dark corners of the internet taking beauty advice from cavemen is bound to horrify those who wear their 7-step nightly routines like a badge of honour. How could it not? But before you clutch your pearl-infused illuminating cream, hear this: “There is no good data showing that people who wash their faces get less acne than those who don't,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. “Some people who wash regularly get acne, and some who do not may still have clear skin.”
Caveman or contemporary human capable of operating a computer to comment on a web forum, it doesn’t matter: There’s a chance it all just comes down to genetics, diet, and pure dumb luck. That's natural selection at its best.